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CHAPTER SEVEN Concluding discussion: negotiating ambiguity as a means to the life-world

Ben Simmons Karnac Books PDF


Concluding discussion: negotiating ambiguity as a means to the life-world

Identifying ambiguity

In this book we explored a range of theoretical and methodological territories as they relate to children with PMLD, and at each turn we have found ambiguity and complexity. At the level of academic theory we found subjective qualities like “contingency awareness” (Lancioni et al.,

2003; Saunders et al., 2007; Schweigert, 1989) and “happiness” (Dillon &

Carr, 2007; Green & Reid, 1999a) seeping into behaviourist research (see

Chapter Two); we found competing perspectives about the nature and development of infantile intersubjectivity and communication in cognitivism (Schaffer, 1971a; Trevarthen & Aitken, 2001) (see Chapter Three); and in phenomenology we found a radically alternative understanding of embodied subjectivity in the form of “organic thought”, which competes with understandings of behaviour, consciousness and cognition found in traditional psychology (Merleau-Ponty, 1963; 2002) (see

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Appendix - On Wittgenstein's Private Language Argument

Trevor C. Pederson Karnac Books ePub

In this appendix I will present the private language argument of Wittgenstein in order to show the nature of the sign (signifier + signified) and how his account provides a foundation for the common language phenomenological approach I've taken in this book. Wittgenstein, like Freud, gives examples and arguments for his position and I will share these in order to defend my approach against potential criticism from post-modernists, relativists, and the views of some post-structuralists. I don't examine any specific criticism and acknowledge that to some degree I'm setting up a straw man for positions that are often more nuanced. However, my experience in sharing some of my work is that my reader doesn't share his or her own criticism or apprehensions but instead asks how I'd deal with the criticism of a straw man's position. This appendix is for their concerns.

Through Wittgenstein's private language argument I'll argue that the existence of words for different motivations, emotions, and sensations can't arise from our own sensations or feelings of them. Therefore the fact that they exist is based upon the ability of those with EQ to judge the physical expressions, behaviours, and intentions of others in a way that is consistent enough to create agreement among a community, and therefore give these words “meaning”. Not everyone possesses EQ and we recognise that there are people on the autistic spectrum that don't notice “social cues” like the other person's boredom in conversation with them. We also recognise that some people possess what is called “wisdom” and this comes from the person being able to predict the behaviour of others and rightly judge their motivations and feelings that the others can assent to. This doesn't necessarily have a connection to a person having studied psychology or any such subject in university. Rather, it is better to existentially judge that there are people in one's community who others go to for advice, who have a reputation for their “good sense”, and demonstrate the ability to help others see past their repetitions or lower their character defences, by the avowal of the beneficiary.1 For those who lack EQ, and claim that it cannot exist, this aspect of the private language argument hopefully directs them to the possibility that it isn't “feminine irrationalism” but their own inadequacy and defences against feeling that are at work. Lastly, there are also intellectual positions that seem to be based upon their adherents having good EQ but because of their defences, they also would like to deny that the judgement of motivations, emotions, and sensations can have a trans-historical existence. I will conclude the appendix by illustrating how the private language argument forces the hand of different intellectual positions based upon what Reich (1973b) has called mechanistic and mystical forms of thinking, to which I'll add relativistic thinking.

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CHAPTER FOUR: Five personality types

Mavis Klein Karnac Books ePub

Soon after I started practising as a psychotherapist, I began to notice that certain words, attitudes, feelings, and bodily behaviours in individuals seemed to form clusters. Gradually, over the course of the next twenty years, I inductively developed my observations into a comprehensive theory of five basic personality types, each with its own special handicaps and talents reflecting its own fundamental existential decision. I also noticed that these five personality types were, metaphorically, the atoms of which all our egos are constituted. We are all alike in having all five types in our natures; we are different from each other in the relative strengths and the hierarchical organisation of the types in our individual personalities.

The five basic types are: the Perfectionist, the Hur-rier, the Doormat, the Try Harder, and the Stiff Upper Lipper. The Perfectionist and the Hurrier are concerned with the ways in which we come to terms with existence itself in the first three years of our lives. The Doormat, the Try Harder, and the Stiff Upper Lipper are concerned with the ways in which we come to terms with relating to other people in the Oedipal stage of our development during the second three years of our lives. All of the types are the means by which we defend our fragile egos against the disintegrative forces that threaten them. Similarly to our language ability, we probably have a hard-wired propensity to express all of the five basic personality types, but we require appropriate stimulation in our formative years in order for them to be fully activated. The particularities of each individual’s early childhood experiences determine the relative strengths of the five types in his or her personality.

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Chapter Five - Intergenerational Transmission

Ira Brenner Karnac Books ePub

“I wish and I ask that our rulers who have Jewish subjects…act like a good physician who, when gangrene has set proceeds without mercy to cut, saw, and burn flesh, veins, bone, and marrow. Such a procedure must also be followed in this instance. Burn down their synagogues, forbid all that I enumerated earlier, force them to work, and deal harshly with them, as Moses did in the wilderness, slaying three thousand lest the whole people perish”

(Martin Luther, 1543)

“To take the place of emigration, and with the prior approval of the Führer, the evacuation of the Jews to the East…should be of great importance in view of the coming Endlösung [final/definitive solution] of the Jewish question”

(Reinhard Heydrich, Speech at the Wansee Conference, Berlin, Germany, January 20, 1942, p. 304)


Results of a twenty-year study of children of Holocaust survivors have concluded that they are no more psychologically disturbed than a matched control group—except in “extreme situations” (Van IJzendoorn, Fridman, Bakermans-Kranenburg, & Sagi-Schwartz, 2013). Such findings might come as a relief to those who have felt stigmatised by being labelled with a diagnosis that does not exist. It might also come as a relief to certain agencies and governments that might have been asked to provide expensive services or restitution payments to offspring of survivors of genocidal persecution. However, such a conclusion might also inadvertently obscure the findings of more than forty years of psychoanalytic experience with this group. In this chapter, I wish to review these findings, drawing upon the unique form of research that can only be derived from an in-depth study of the unconscious mind.

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Chapter Five: The Limits between Creativity and Madness

Walter Boechat Karnac Books ePub

“The God
is near, and hard to grasp.
But where there is danger,
A rescuing element grows as well”

—Hölderlin, “Patmos”, 1984

“But the spirit of the depths had gained this power because I had spoken to my soul during 25 nights in the desert and I had given her all my love and submission. But during the 25 days, I gave all my love and submission to things, to men and to the thoughts of this time. I went into the desert only at night.”

—Jung, Liber Novus, 2009, p. 238

The madness of Miss Miller

In 1911, a little while before having the first inner experiences that would later give rise to The Red Book, Jung published Symbols of Transformation, which was to be the turning point for his separation from Sigmund Freud. The book was based on the travelogues of a young American woman, although he never knew her personally. Jung thought that the images and poetry in Frank Miller's journal revealed that she could be schizophrenic, leading him to use the subtitle An Analysis of the Prelude to a Case of Schizophrenia (1911). The book was published just two years after Jung had abandoned his position as a medical assistant at the Burghölzli psychiatric hospital. There he had followed hundreds of cases of schizophrenia over years and had noticed archetypical mythological content emerging from these patients, as though their personal psyche seemed to have been invaded by archetypal content. However, Jung's pessimistic prognosis in relation to Miss Miller was mistaken. Shamdasani's research now demonstrates that Miss Miller had been a student of the professor and Swiss academic Théodore Flournoy, and had studied under him for a term at the University of Geneva (Shamdasani, 1990). Miss Miller did not present any symptoms of psychosis. On the contrary, she was a very social and talkative lady, had travelled to various countries in Asia and particularly in eastern Russia, and upon returning to the United States had started to lecture on her ethnological experiences. On her travels she kept a journal of her experiences in which she wrote poems and mythological tales. One of these includes the Chiwantopel hero figure, a character that emerged spontaneously in Miss Miller's fantasies.1 She also included The Song of the Moth, which tells the story of a moth that burns after being irresistibly drawn to a flame. According to Jung, these and the other images contained in the book suggest that they were written while the author was psychologically fragile.

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